E-bike battery fires spark call to regulate like fireworks

Batteries for e-bikes should be subject to the same stringent regulations as pyrotechnics, heavy machinery, and medical devices due to the fire risk they pose.  

In June, a woman and two children died in an e-bike battery-related conflagration. Currently, manufacturers can self-declare that batteries for e-bikes and e-scooters satisfy safety requirements. However, Electrical Safety First advocates for third-party approval prior to the sale of these batteries.

The bike was the "most likely cause" of the catastrophic fire in June, according to the Cambridgeshire Fire Service, which is currently investigating the e-bike left charging inside the apartment.

The London conflagration Brigade reported that, on average, it responded to a conflagration involving these batteries every two days in 2023.

According to Lesley Rudd, chief executive officer of Electrical Safety First, the enormous amount of energy released over time when a battery bursts into flames is unlike other fires.

The destruction of a room could occur in a matter of minutes. This specific type of fire necessitates specialized measures to combat the growing problem. Ms. Rudd believes that the United Kingdom should implement regulations similar to those introduced in New York City in March 2023.

The city in the United States has enacted legislation mandating that e-bikes, e-scooters, and their batteries adhere to standards established by a third party with expertise in battery technology.

There are too many irresponsible operators in this industry, such as third-party vendors on online marketplaces, who endanger the lives of the general public and tarnish the reputation of the manufacturers of these products.

According to the London Fire Brigade damaged or failing e-bike and e-scooter batteries can start ferocious fires. They stated that lithium battery fires can spread rapidly out of control and initiate a large fire within minutes.

Andrew Beaton, of Lancaster, reported that his family's residence was destroyed by an e-bike fire, resulting in damages exceeding £50,000. He stated, "If not for my son, we would not be here." He mentioned that as his son was awake at night he saw the e-bike on fire and alerted them. 

Even though he removed the e-bike from the residence, he reported that the fire had already spread to the staircase. National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) prevention director Neil Odin stated that there has been a worrying increase in e-bike fires involving lithium iron batteries.

There is a need for heightened risk awareness and a thorough examination of the standards associated with these products.

In addition to regulating the sale of batteries, Electrical Safety First suggested that e-bikes could be made safer by mandating that the battery be positioned differently so that it is better protected from injury.

According to the report, the current placement of batteries on e-bikes, which is typically under the foot plate, can expose them to damage from the earth and water. A 15 centimeter increase in the required height of the foot plate would reduce impact damage.

Total prohibition of universal chargers, as they cause overcharging, which can result in fires. James Metcalfe, the founder of e-bike company Volt, told sources that the internet is flooded with substandard batteries and that consumers must be educated that cheap imported batteries can be extremely dangerous.